Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Chubby and the Haberdasher

December 2, 2015

When I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, an early work (1938) by Dr. Seuss. In the story, young Bartholomew is arrested for not showing King Derwin respect by removing his hat when the king passes through the village. In fact, Bartholomew did remove his hat, only to have another magically appear on his head. Bartholomew tries desperately to bare his head but to no avail. Each time he attempts to remove his hat a larger, fancier one appears. The king, frustrated and feeling disrespected, orders Bartholomew’s execution, but the ax man insists he can’t sever the boy’s head until the

hat is removed. Over four hundred hats are plucked from Bartholomew’s head, until finally the 500th hat appears, a fantastic concoction with jewels and feathers. The king covets the magnificent hat and the story ends with the king purchasing it and releasing Bartholomew.

 

 

 

           

I’m relating this tale because I’ve always had an issue with hats. I love them, but have never found one that flattered me. I’ve worn a few baseball style caps even though I’ve never been a baseball kind of guy. After receiving money for my birthday I decided to do something I’ve never done before—seek out a haberdasher for expert advice on what type of hat would look best on me. Haberdashers were once urban fixtures—Harry Truman was a haberdasher—and like most big cities Portland once supported many of these establishments. Today only one remains—John Helmer Haberdasher, established in 1921.

 

 

           

 

My salesman, who resembled John Steed in the 60’s TV drama The Avengers, took a few measurements and confirmed something I’ve been told my entire life—I have a big head. I told him I needed something capable of withstanding Oregon’s cold and wet winter climate, and he explained that hats are primarily made from felt or fur felt. Felt is manufactured, but fur felt comes from animals, mostly rabbits harvested for their meat. I didn’t like the idea of having part of a dead bunny on my head so I stuck with regular felt.

           

In the late 50s I enjoyed a TV western with actor Gene Barry called Bat Masterson. Like John Steed, he also sported a derby. Derbies looked cool, but when I tried on a few they made me look like a short version of Popeye’s friend Wimpy, and I had similar issues with many of the wide-brimmed hats I tried on. When confronted with a chapeau I found appealing, I was dismayed when my salesman referred to it as a short-rimmed Sinatra fedora.

           

A Sinatra fedora? At first I was horrified to think I’d picked a hat Sinatra might have worn. People from my parents’ generation may have thought Sinatra the epitome of “cool,” but as far as I was concerned the Beatles ruled. Sinatra was an old fart, even older than Elvis.

           

But the more I looked at myself in a mirror, the more I liked it so I handed over my birthday money. These days I’m finding Sinatra’s music more appealing, although you’ll never catch me belting out a shaky rendition of My Way. Besides, I think Bruno Mars wears a hat like this so maybe I’m not such a square after all.

           

There’s something else I’ve always wanted, an item that captured my attention in old swashbuckling stories like The Count of Monte Cristo…a cape.

 

I wonder where I can find one of those.

 

 

 

           What do you think? Should I start learning the lyrics to “Strangers in the Night?”

 

 

 

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Comments

26 Comments
ooh, i like! looking cool and mighty dapper!
By: TexWisGirl on December 2, 2015
Looks very sharp on you. I'm surprised you were able to find a haberdasher. I don't look good in hats either. I think it's because my head and face are too narrow.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on December 2, 2015
Looking good. I should go find a haberdasher and see if he has something to fit my big fat head.
By: PT Dilloway on December 2, 2015
I like the look. I would suggest you could enhance [my opinion] the look further by losing the moustache and going with just a goatee or if you're a little more daring... a soul patch.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 2, 2015
From your look in your profile picture, I thought you were one of those people who always looked good in hats. You look great in your scooby-dooby-do hat... much better than Frank Sinatra. I love hats, but have a very narrow face, so tend to not like myself in most.
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 2, 2015
A most entertaining and interesting story. I remember the old western too.
By: John on December 2, 2015
Oh this is a great hat for you! Very dashing! I never have found a hat that flattered me except for the Mexican straw hats for the beach....have a fabulous day and don't forget to wearyour hat!
By: Kathe W. on December 2, 2015
Try here, you handsome devil: How to Buy a Mens Cape | eBay www.ebay.com ⺠... ⺠Accessories ⺠Capes, Coats & Cloaks
By: fishducky on December 2, 2015
At least you don't look like you "would gladly repay on Tuesday for a hamburger today." Actually you look rather dapper.
By: cranky on December 2, 2015
A topcoat worn just draped around the shoulders with your arms free would complement your new topper rather nicely, I think.
By: Catalyst on December 2, 2015
You look wonderful in that hat! Don't bother with a cape unless it is Halloween, though, unless you really want people to look at you oddly.
By: messymimi on December 2, 2015
I like the hat. On a separate, but related, note, I love the word "haberdasher". Did you know that in British English "haberdasher" means something else? Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on December 2, 2015
Dashing, handsome., commanding and a bit mysterious, what more could you want?
By: Tabor on December 2, 2015
A great choice of hat. It looks like it was made for you. As for Sinatra-I too am from the rock generation but find some of the old Sinatra stuff just magnificent. It's great Friday night date or cocktail music.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 2, 2015
I wouldn't encourage you to sing but you really look cool in your new hat.
By: red on December 2, 2015
I love that hat on you. I want to hug and kiss that hat, and while I'm hugging and kissing it, I'll run away with it because I love hats. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 2, 2015
The hat looks great on you! You might just want to forget about the cape.
By: Pixel Peeper on December 2, 2015
Much better than a derby! My mom told me she had a recurring dream where she would take a hat off her head, and another would take its place. She had that dream over and over, from the time she was a kid.
By: Val on December 2, 2015
The hat does look good on you, but methinks fans of Sinatra have nothing to worry about. At least Mrs. C doesn't insist upon you wearing a ski-cap/mask like my wife does me. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 2, 2015
Ahhh come on...Sinatra rocked and the hat rocks. By the way I work with children and have read Dr. Suess a zillion times and have never heard of the 500 hats.......(I will have to look it up) Cheers....
By: Beckie on December 2, 2015
I love the hat--it looks terrific on you. I'd like to see more men wearing hats these days---it reminds me of a more elegant time.
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on December 2, 2015
Suits you very well - good job!
By: jenny_o on December 2, 2015
More sophisticated than Sinatra; more cool than Mars. Are spats next?!?
By: Tom Sightings on December 3, 2015
That hat is so YOU! Looks great on you. Good choice.
By: Bouncin Barb on December 3, 2015
I think it looks snazzy! My papa used to wear a version of this one, and I always thought he looked dapper. I like hats, but I don't have any and wouldn't even know where I might wear one! My youngest superhero loving grandson could fix you up with a cape real fast.:)
By: Terri@Coloring Outside the Lines on December 4, 2015
Great hat and you look really good in it! I think of the song.."You make me feel so young".. It could be part of a lyric Sinatra sang but it's a good one. He was considered the epitome of cool in the 1960's . I actually have been told that I wear hats quite well and have a few of them. I miss the days when men and women wore hats.
By: Birgit on December 7, 2015

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